June 13th, 2013
01:30 AM ET
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Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.

Does your company have in place what amounts to an "English-only" policy for employees? Yes? No?

How do we get Whole Foods to tell the whole truth?

At the very least, what we have at the trendy organic supermarket chain is a failure to communicate - in any language.

Bryan Baldizan and Lupe Gonzales - two employees of a Whole Foods Market in Albuquerque, New Mexico - say that they were suspended for speaking Spanish on the job and complaining to a manager who told them, in a staff meeting, that a company policy required them to speak English.

Who would have thought? Hispanics make up a staggering 46.7% of New Mexico's population, and many of those folks have roots that run deep in the Land of Enchantment.

Read - English-only at Whole Foods?

soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Jorge

    If it is in their contract then they are bound to it. When I held a job as a HS teacher of physics in my home country I was expected to exclusively speak in English while students were in the school grounds. It was part of the contract, and expectation, even if my home country's first native tongue is Spanish. If they disagree with the policy, they can look for a job elsewhere without such restriction.

    The only valid debate here would be whether this is a good business move, given that the clientele might have people who do prefer to communicate in Spanish and this policy would prevent staff from helping them in their native/preferred tongue.

    July 10, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
  2. James

    Bryan Baldizan and Lupe Gonzales should be fired of course....and so should Ruben Navarrette for pretending to be a journalist...he constantly puts out garbage with a slanted illegal alien preference. All to push his liberal trash agenda.

    July 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  3. Take California Back

    Thank God, it is about time! I am so sick and tired of these idiots trying to push their stupid anti-american crap on us all the time. If you want to speak Spanish on the job, go work at a Mexican restaurant!

    July 1, 2013 at 4:37 am |
  4. fortheloveofpeolpe

    my job also has the same only speak english policy so great job whole foods

    June 18, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  5. Ring World

    As I also speak German, Italian and French, I am going to talk each sentence in a different language and they must respond. If the workers did not learn the languages when swimming across the Rio Grande, then I will demand they be fired.

    June 16, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
  6. thisguy83

    what i love is how this article didn't follow up for jack squat on what actually happened. i work for whole foods, they were never told that they couldn't speak spanish on the job, they misunderstood what they were told as it relates to speaking spanish when in front of an english speaking customer, they were suspended for throwing things, damaging displays and cursing out other employees. Not because they spoke spanish. Check your facts people.

    June 15, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Mfatpony

      This was frist reported on the 5 o'clock news and right away the story was tilted as some form of racial discrimination . At 6 the same day the follow up was givien a brief statement that the employees had caused a disturbance.. In the following days Channel 4 reported on Wholefoods new policy. I simply don't understand why business here continues to cow down to this kind of nonsense.
      Why the heck weren't they fired on the spot for that kind of behavior I'll never know but it's now one less store that i'll spend my money in.

      June 15, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • Rich McCarty

      I speak English, French, and Dutch and I believe that we'd all better off if we collectively had a better understanding of other languages and cultures. That being said, the language of commerce in the United States is English and I agree that Whole Foods is right in having a uniform form of communication being essential to a safe and efficient working environment. Ruben insists that these two folks were suspended solely for speaking Spanish amongst themselves while at work. Maybe they really were insubordinate or can only Anglophones be guilty of that?

      June 16, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  7. gpzjack

    So what we are saying is that its ignorant for us to expect someone to speak english but its not ignorant when its expected that we speak spanish? And i guess its ok for employees to speak in another language when you have no idea what they are saying and for all you know they are making fun of you? I'm so sick of trying to be pc in this country.

    June 14, 2013 at 10:36 am |
  8. bdsaint

    A joke of an article. I'd say "yellow journalism" but Ruben would then accuse me of being racist. Look, these two chose to work at Whole Foods, they were responsible for reading the terms of employeement and understanding them. Regardless if you agree with those terms or not, if the two employees didn't like the terms then they shouldn't have accepted the jobs. Once again the PC police show up and impose their will. I'm all for a multi cultural society, but personal responsibility has to come into play at some point. If you don't like the rules of a business, don't work for that business.

    June 13, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Edwin

      What you failed to reaize is that New Mexico's state constitution bars any company from having any kind of "english only" policy. If the company wants to have that policy in place that's fine as long as it's in line with the laws of the state they're doing business in; being Hispanic I can sympathize with the intent of such a policy and if anything, I agree with it. However not only would such a policy be in violation of New Mexico law, now they won't even confirm or deny whether such a policy exists to begin with.

      That's the real issue here.

      June 13, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
      • bdsaint

        Edwin...this may true, however don't you think that the corporate attorneys for Whole Foods would have made sure that their company policies and procedurs met with state law?

        June 13, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
      • Mfatpony

        I've lived in New Mexico for 20 years. Its went from a mixed Anglo / Hispainc culture to a haven for illegals. And that is why you have so many employees who can't speak a word of English and the real reason to boycott this store. They hire illegals in a state that still has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.
        Since I grew up in a household where Englis was not the first language it was always enforced that in public you speak the common language because anything else is just rude. And i've picked up enough spanish over the years to tell you that some of the things these spanish speaking groups in stores are saying should get them fried. Rude and arrogant is the only way to describe these whining employees who are asked to speak so that customers understand them.

        June 14, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
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